We entered what seemed to be another mall of sorts and like the station, it was in pristine condition. Chairs and tables in restaurants were set accordingly and the shops look maintained. None of it was nearly as well preserved as it was in Rapture, but it was not the mess that was the primary department building. Garvey was in awe by all this, gazing at the ethereal architectural designs that dominated Rapture. Here was a man so focused on the notion of survival in what was a hellish, murky underworld, that the idea of seeing something beautiful ever again escaped his consideration. It was a reawakening for Garvey, a rekindled bond with him and society. This is most likely softening his beliefs on what to do with the bourgeoisie. For me this does not change a thing, all this was a façade to conceal the innate ugliness scurrying around the polished marble tiles. The bourgeoisie have no moral code, no sense of decency. The only language they speak is one of gold and diamonds, currency and revenue, concealment and seclusion. None of this meant a goddamn thing to me, everyone in Rapture was guilty of the heinous wrongdoings committed to the younglings. They would all be tried for their offense, and if not that, they will all burn five thousand leagues below the sea.
“Garvey,” I said, tapping him to get his attention “We should move a little faster, for Dennis’s sake.”
Garvey was walking at a snail’s pace, gazing at everything his eyes could perceive. He gave out a look of embarrassment and then said, “Yeah, let’s head down th-“
Garvey and I then stopped in our tracks, we were hearing mumbling of sorts that was growing ever louder and moving towards the mall. Then we panicked, those men that wreaked havoc in the station were back, and judging by the amount of voices I was hearing, there were quite a few of them. I immediately grabbed Garvey by the arm, paced myself to the nearest shop and hid behind the counter. It was a toy shop, covered with wooden dolls and broken light bulbs all over the floor. We needed to move quickly, I did this before and the results were not spectacular in the primary department building.
“What the hell was that?” Garvey whispered
“I wasn’t lying when I said I’ve done this before. For now follow my lead and stay here, I’m going to check things out, see how many we might be facing.” I said to Garvey. He gave a look of hesitation, but then nodded in agreement,
I slowly walked away from the counter and took cover on the side of the store entrance. I could hear a group of men mumbling, though I doubt they had entered the mall yet. So I took a peek to get a good line of sight of the mall, but there was nothing. No moving figures in the distance, just continuous mumbling that was growing louder by the second.
I see one of the doors slam open and a group of men rushed into the mall. They were all armed to the teeth, carrying weapons varying from Tommy guns, carbines, along with a heap of explosives. There were at least eight that came through the entrance; we had no chance in fighting all of them. What made matters worse was that these were not your typical crazed splicer, these were normal men who could think and assess a situation. We had to make a retreat, but where?
“Check every corner; don’t leave a single store untouched. Rustamav is getting tired of all this bullshit. You hear me cocksuckers? Find the pricks!” said one of the men.
“Will!” whispered Garvey, who came out of the counter and was now standing by me.
“Garvey, what the hell are y-“
“There’s a vent behind the counter.” He said
I look at him in disbelief, but then gave out a smile. We tip toed our way back to the counter and found the vent. It was small and covered in a metal cover sheet. We quickly but quietly took if off and then I entered the vent. Garvey followed right after and put the metal sheet back so that no suspicion would be aroused. The vent was tight and hard to move in. We were moving at a lumbering speed. Fortunately enough, the crawling did not last long and we soon entered a small, empty, four cornered room, spacious enough to walk in. The only downside, there was no way out, other than where we came in.
“Well, guess this is home for now.” Said Garvey, putting down his supplies and sitting down on a corner. He was right, we go back out and we’ll most definitely meet our end. All we can hope to do now is wait and pray that they do not find us here. I put my guns down, took a seat next to him, and drank a bottle of water. We sat in that room for the better part of an hour, waiting for our hunters to leave the vicinity and let us be, but they kept at it, scrounging and searching every part of the mall looking for us. So we sat in this small four cornered room and did the only thing we could do when being hunted, make conversation. We talked in a silent matter for obvious reasons and shared our life stories; family, occupation, and other such things. Before all this Garvey was, surprisingly, a restaurant owner and a chef, a rather good one from what he was telling me. Though business went stale and he was forced to make some hasty career decisions in order to provide for his family, and so he landed here in the bottom of the ocean. Then we started to talk about Rapture itself.
“Christ, I forgot how beautiful it all looked once, feels like a lifetime ago since I’ve seen something like this,” Garvey said in admiration.
“Rapture is still heavily engrained in my head. Beautiful as it may be, I want it all burned to the ground.”
“Can’t be done,” Garvey said.
“Because it’s beneath the ground you stupid schmuck, plus it being in the bottom of the ocean doesn’t help your case.”
“Garvey, pal, as long as no water gets into the interior, fire is still accessible. Simple science friend.” I said smiling
“Oh now you choose to be a smartass?” he said giving off a grin “We could’ve used that at the station, I’m sure those marauders would’ve been downright terrified of your wordplay and Socratic logic.”
“A gun wielding, lightning shooting, chef who studies Socrates?” I said giving out a sigh, “Yeah, just another normal day in Rapture”
“Heh, never really thought of it that way. Really I’m just a simple man trying to get by. There’s nothing much else to it”
“So say we all.” I said to him. After that we stayed quiet for a few minutes, just staring at the floor and reflecting. The smiles faded and the boisterous mood withered away, all good things came to an end.
“You fight in any wars up there?” Garvey asked
“Just one, the same one you were in.” I said, remembering Lonnie telling me that Garvey was a veteran of The Korean War. “See any action up there?”
“No, I was part of the 52nd infantry reserve division. We were tasked with protecting Seoul which was never in harm’s way to begin with, so I spent most of my time in bars and shit motels. You can figure out the rest.” He said uncomfortably, looking away from me and sitting still. “What about you, how was the CIA planting its roots in Korea?”
“I was there mainly for intelligence purposes, but I would imagine the CIA got involved to rid the world of the communist regime. People forget that this thing we have with the USSR is a war of attrition riding on spy rings. We wouldn’t be in this dilemma if more security measures were taken to protect the single most important and dangerous weapon ever conceived by man.”
“Um . . . well I was thinking more of what you specifically were doing there, but I guess that works too.” He said smiling nervously then looking away. The events that just transpired had him shaken up. A veteran he might be but one that only participated in a war as opposed to actually fighting in one. He is the one who will be leading our every step and one misstep will undoubtedly direct us to our demise. I stayed quiet for another few minutes and checked the vent to see if the mall was clear. Loud metal items hit the floor with a thunderous clamor. Shards of glass shattered into indiscernible bits. The marauders continued their raid of the mall, scrounging every perceivable corner to find us. It was incredible how with even all that ferocity and determination that it did not cross their minds to check this spot we lay hidden in. Perhaps we overestimated their aptitude. That or lady luck winked at me and lord behold I get to live another day.
“Back in the bathysphere . . . what Dennis and I said about families and loved ones,” Garvey suddenly said after minutes of silence. “I can’t-“
“I get it, thinking about that sort of stuff here is no good,” I said to Garvey, trying to reassure him “You don’t need to explain yourself.”
“No, it’s not that,” he said, almost ashamed. “You know we act all high and mighty, telling everyone ‘fuck family, that pointless banter, it’s no good to think about’ when the truth is I think about her every day. I’m thinking about her right now, wondering how she’s doing and whether or not I should come back . . . would that just screw everything up? Having to explain to our kid that her father is a criminal and a killer? How do you tell your little girl that her father is a bad man?”
“Garvey, now listen here. What you’ve done, that isn’t murder, that’s survival. It was either them or you; they didn’t give you a choice. I’ve struggled a long time with survival and keeping my sanity in check. And the way to go about that is to keep finding something to fight for. Just, don’t lose yourself in this mess.”
After that both of us were silent. I stood up and went to check whether or not the mall was clear, Garvey did not move and just looked down. I put my head towards the vent to hear any noises, but there was nothing. No one spoke; I could not hear the looming footsteps of our predators. I waited for another five minutes for even a diminutive noise, but nothing came. This was our queue to leave.
“Alright, looks like its clear. Let’s head out, with any luck we can still catch up to Dennis before they do.” I said to Garvey, but he did not respond. In fact he did not even move. I was stunned by this, here was a man who just escaped the grasps of hell and saved my life in the process, and now he’s just still, motionless, I daresay broken. “Garvey!”
“Could you . . . share with me what it’s like up there?” Garvey said, with tears rolling down his eye and he began mumbling, “I-I’m sorry . . ., it’s been so long since I’ve seen the sun that I don’t remember what, daylight looks like. All that keeps popping in my head is bullet holes and scared tissue. Just tell me anything, that’s all I ask.”
I was utterly shocked, my mouth opened but no words came through. What can you say to remedy that? I took a seat next to him and looked to one corner of the room for answers.
“You know, before I came to The Department Store, I was almost lobotomized by some crazy, wacko surgeon. He gave me a sedative that put me in a deep sleep, and in that sleep, I dreamed of a park where you see children playing about in the lush green grass and birds chirping away high above the ground. I remember just sitting down on the bench and thinking how lucky I was, that my last memories on Earth will be of red roses and a radiant sun because in truth, even I was forgetting what daylight looked like. That dream made me realize that no matter how many tapestries or red marble tiles there are in a place like this, it just doesn’t compare to what’s up there. Letting my daughter see that again, the joy of sunlight, that’s what I’m fighting for.”
With that I ended my “speech”; I look at Garvey only to see that he was still blankly looking at the ground. I waited for a few seconds until I gave out a sigh and picked myself up. I grabbed my bags and was going to talk more sense into Garvey, but thankfully he got up, picked up his supplies, and was ready to head out.
“Alright Garvey, you’re the boss so lead the w-“
“No Sullivan, you’re the boss,” he said humbly “I think you’re the only man in this group who could get us all out of here in one peace. Wherever you go I follow, so by all means lead the way.”
I look at Garvey in complete disbelief; he smiles and then extends his arm out to me to give me a handshake. I gladly accepted it and, for the first time here, we came to an understanding.